Anita with some of her high school art students.

Anita with some of her high school art students.

Teaching Traveling: How can an American art teacher manage to travel all over the world? Read this exciting story of Anita Horton, creator of ArtTeachTravel.com to find out.

Anita, tell us about yourself.

Anita: I am an artist and have always been interested in other cultures for inspiration in the arts and in building global relationships.

After graduating from Missouri State University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and Certification to teach art K-12, I moved to Dallas with my then-husband and began a career in advertising and graphic design. I succeeded in this field, eventually becoming a Designer/Art Director for the JCPenney Company. During this time I became a mother and, in time, decided to work for myself as a freelancer.

Bath Abbey, England, during Anita's free trip!

Bath Abbey, England, during Anita’s free trip!

Very satisfied with this career move, it came as a surprise when a private school in the Dallas, Texas area approached me about starting a sculpture department at this college-prep school. I hadn’t been looking for a job; they found me based on the artwork I had been exhibiting in my city. It was a tough decision and I struggled with it, but eventually felt led into accepting this new challenge. Not much time went by before I became so very grateful that I had accepted this new direction for my life! I fell in love with teaching art and have just completed my eleventh year as a middle and high school art teacher.

TT: Fabulous! So, where have you traveled?

A: Prior to 2006, I had been on a couple trips to Mexico and even to Kenya, Africa on a mission trip, but as an artist I had always dreamed of going to Europe. After my marriage ended, I changed the way I paid my bills and began to charge everything I could, paying the bill off each month, to earn mileage points. I was diligent about this as I was trying to earn enough points to take my then high school aged daughter to Europe before she graduated from high school.

TT: Were you able to accomplish this travel goal?

Kilts of many colors in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Kilts of many colors in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A: Yes, but another adventure came along first. It was the beginning of the school year in 2005. All arts and humanities teachers at my school are inundated with educational travel catalogs enticing us to put together an international trip for our students. Most all my colleagues simply tossed these catalogs in the trash and considered them as junk mail, but I didn’t. You see, I so longed to travel that I would cut pictures of Big Ben and the Eiffel Tower out and make simple collages out of these printed photos.

It was during one of these times that I was cutting out pictures that I ran across a survey inside the catalog promising a possible trip to Europe. Typically I am not a coupon-clipping, survey-taking person, but I filled the survey out and tossed it in the mail, and then promptly forgot about it and the school year got underway. It wasn’t until the following May of 2006, that I was contacted by this educational travel company and was told that my name was randomly selected to travel for FREE to London and Paris with 19 other educators! I couldn’t believe it! I WON!! This trip forever changed my life and my love of travel.

The house in Lacock, England which supposedly was Harry Potter’s house in the movies!

The house in Lacock, England which supposedly was Harry Potter’s house in the movies!

TT: Love it! Were you able to go to Europe with your daughter?

A: In the summer of 2007 I did take my daughter to Europe and we travelled through France, Italy and Austria. It was fabulous, and the love for travel grew for both of us. We loved the unique qualities about each of the countries we visited and would have had a terrible time choosing a favorite.

Then another crazy-good thing happened. In the spring of 2008, because I was on the mailing list of the above mentioned educational travel company, I was sent an invitation to come to a north Texas Introductory Meeting to hear about their program. It was on a Wednesday evening and I had no plans so I rsvp’d that I’d be there. Approximately 100 north Texas educators showed up to learn about these student-travel opportunities.

After the presentation, they passed out raffle tickets and announced they were going to give away a few teacher trips. Yes, you guessed it. Unbelievably I WON another trip; this time to Scotland! I could not believe it!

After I’d had my fill of kilts, bagpipes, castles and the infamous Scottish food, haggis, I added a few days to this trip and also visited a friend in Bath, England.

A Spice Market in Istanbul, Turkey.

A Spice Market in Istanbul, Turkey.

TT: Amazing luck! Where else have you traveled?

A: Since then, I’ve continued to travel domestically, but last year spent almost the entire summer traveling through both England and Turkey!

While in England I visited London, staying with a former student of mine who now lives there! That was a thrill! I also traveled to Bath, to Devon, the Cotswolds, Weymouth and Jersey Island.

From London I flew to Istanbul and immediately was captivated by the sounds and tastes of this European/Asian city. From there I traveled to Izmir and then onto the villages of Cesme and Alacati. Each time I travel to a new country, it becomes my favorite and then I begin dreaming about the next one I’ll visit.

TT: How have your travels impacted you?

A: Travel has so impacted my life that I am now actively participating in the very real possibility of moving overseas to teach in an international school. I’ve been researching this idea for four years and I felt like I was turning into a file cabinet of stored information.

With a “Sultan” at Saturday Market, Alacati, Turkey.

With a “Sultan” at Saturday Market, Alacati, Turkey.

Because of this, I started a blog at ArtTeachTravel.com where I am giving away all my research to teachers of the world so they can both find ways to live life passionately, travel inexpensively and consider international teaching themselves. I have written articles on how to begin this type of life change, and I’ve highlighted various educational recruitment companies available to work with. Additionally I give links to many blogs and websites that I’ve discovered along with tips on how to be brave and live life on your own terms.

TT: So useful! How have your travel experiences benefitted your students?

A: My students know that I LOVE to travel. Many of my art project ideas are based on artists or subject matter from other countries. I feel like these young students, more than ever before, need to be exposed to the world’s people and cultures. Any information I can give them that will enable them to become more loving and appreciative of people from around the globe will be a lesson that will benefit them for years to come.

TT: So true. Thanks so much for your wise words, Anita! Readers, what questions or comments do you have?

* So far, this article has been read by 1,389 fans, with 1 visits today. Share it around! *

Posted by Lillie

Lillie started TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share the infinite ways to combine education and world exploration. Lillie has been a Boston teacher since 2003, and chronicles her own travels at AroundTheWorldL.com.

21 Comments

  1. Chad Chrysler June 29, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Anita,
    Thank you for sharing your story and experiences. I have been longing most of my life for adventure and even battled depression when feeling like there wasn’t any for me! I am an artist teacher with the fortunate opportunity for my wife (Japanese), our children, and I (American) to live in Japan where I teach art at an English emersion school. It JUST dawned on me last week, after all this time, that we could travel internationally where I could teach at international schools. Now my mind is racing with excitement of the possibilities. It sounds so crazy from anything I have ever done but it seems to fit me. If you have any comments or additional information to “feed the fire” or better equip me I would love to receive it. Thank you for your time and again for sharing.
    Chad

    Reply

    1. Dear Chad,
      Thanks for reading! My biggest suggestion is to READ MY BLOG!! It is found at artteachtravel dot com. Go to the very first article (March 12, 2012) and read forward. I have uncovered so, so many excellent opportunities for teachers. You will learn so much and I hope you’ll be inspired! Absolutely you can travel and teach at international schools!! The world is the limit! Go for it!!

      Reply

      1. Chad Chrysler June 30, 2013 at 7:39 am

        Thanks so much for responding so quickly! I will take your suggestion about the reading. Chad

        Reply

  2. Hi Anita,

    Fascinated to hear about your travels.I am an art teacher too at an International school in Dubai.Please let me have information of how I can go on some of these tours too.Am a breast cancer survivor too and all the more eager to savour the thrills of seeing new places.

    Reply

    1. Dear Rukhsana,
      The tours that I was fortunate to “win” were from education companies in the USA that cater to high school student group travel. There are many of them. But now that you are already overseas, and employed in Dubai !!!, you are likely able to travel a lot. If you’ll read through my blog at artteachtravel dot com, you’ll get a lot of ideas for teachers who travel. Thanks for reading!

      Reply

      1. Thanks for the reply Anita.

        Reply

  3. Happy New Year from a Singaporean student teacher. Just returned from my first Europe trip and I think I’m addicted. I’m already researching on places to go this year. Thats how I came upon this site. Interesting! 😀

    Reply

    1. Glad you found us, and so exciting the travels you are taking!

      Reply

    2. Maisharah, Thank you! Happy New Year to you too! Congrats on your student teaching! Will you be able to take a full time job this fall? All the best of luck!

      Reply

      1. Thanks! The way things go around here, I’ll officially be a teacher in 2013. Hope this is the right path for me.

        Reply

  4. To: The Tuscan

    Wow. Hard, hard question. I have no travel experience in China or SE Asia. Those places are currently tickling my fancy. 🙂

    Reply

  5. What country/place would you like to visit most, among those you haven’t visited yet?

    Reply

  6. Hats off to you, Anita. What a wonderful interview. You continue to inspire!

    Reply

    1. Jimmie, you are such a dear friend…so supportive and complementary. Thank you. xoxo

      Reply

  7. Jill, so beautifully said! I may quote you in my blog, with your permission, of course. 🙂

    Reply

    1. Of course — and I mean it — what you offer your students is the gift of being inquisitive and wanting to learn more about the world — the world is such a wonderful teacher ! then I can visit you wherever you are ! xo jillb

      Reply

      1. Yes, Jill, you better visit me! Hoping to see you soon. xo

        Reply

  8. Inspirational !!! Having just returned from Athens for my art life, and also an educator — instilling the love of travel to students inspires them when we return with a personal vision of what we experienced. It demonstrates our desire to continue our own education — to be curious and interested and want to understand more about the “world” we live in — the art, the people, …. — a human experience that shows us the value of life.

    Reply

  9. Eager for comments and/or questions. 🙂

    Reply

  10. Thanks, Lillie! Love it! You’re the best!

    Reply

    1. Glad you like how the interview turned out. Your story is remarkable!

      Reply

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